A report in The Hill says that a group of NFL players have requested that President Donald Trump issue a blanket pardon for nonviolent drug offenders, responding to the president’s suggestion that protesting players recommend those they felt had been treated unfairly by the criminal justice system.
This happened after an op-ed in the New York Times by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson, and Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin appeared calling nonviolent drug offender incarceration a “systemic problem.”
“President Trump could help,” they wrote. “He could use his powers, including the clemency power, to make a real dent in the federal prison population.”
For the first time, there appears to be something positive happening in regards to the NFL kneeling controversy. Trump has already expressed a desire to reform the prison system to reduce unnecessary incarceration and now the players used this opportunity to bring forward a request that could work toward that same goal. This could be the beginning of useful collaboration, civil dialogue, and mutual respect between the president and NFL players who are advocating for social justice issues.
Trump asked the players to submit some names to be considered for pardons. The players, however, felt that simply pardoning a few individuals wouldn’t solve the problem.
“But a handful of pardons will not address the sort of systemic injustice that NFL players have been protesting,” the op-ed read. “These are problems that our government has created, many of which occur at the local level. If President Trump thinks he can end these injustices if we deliver him a few names, he hasn’t been listening to us.”
The players commended Trump for pardoning Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old woman who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug conviction, but asked for a more comprehensive solution. Here’s what they want:
● A blanket pardon for nonviolent drug offenders who have already served long sentences. “Imagine how many more Alice Johnsons the president could pardon if he treated the issue like the systemic problem it is, rather than asking professional football players for a few cases.”
● The release of any drug offender over the age of 60 whose conviction isn’t recent. “There is also a systemic problem in federal prison involving the elderly, who by next year will make up 28 percent of the federal prison population. Releasing these prisoners would pose little to no risk to society.”
● Eliminate life without parole for nonviolent offenses. “Currently more than half of those sentenced to die in federal prison are there for nonviolent offenses, and 30 percent of people sentenced to life (or de facto life) are there for nonviolent drug crimes.”